SACRAMENTO — Many students like seeing the pair of felines roam freely at Sacramento's Camellia Elementary School, but the district says they are no longer welcome.
Meet Fred and Gracie, two cats who have lived on the campus for three years.
Margaret Myers is a teacher who began caring for the cats when they first appeared, and even now that she's retired, she still comes back to check on them.
"They've really been instrumental in helping bring stress relief and comfort to the kids and staff," Myers said.
The two cats even have a column in the campus newspaper.
Gracie is feral and doesn't usually approach people, but Fred is friendly and, occasionally, he's been invited into classrooms.
"The kids are very accepting of Fred," Myers said. "He's never scratched anyone, bitten anyone."
A complaint was recently filed saying the cats don't belong on school grounds.
"There were some concerns that perhaps having Fred on campus posed some health concerns," said Brian Heap, a spokesperson for the Sacramento City Unified School District. "There are some of our students and staff who might be allergic."
So the school district says Fred has to go.
"In this particular case, we're talking about either feral or stray cats, and we just don't have a way to be able to control them wandering through the halls, going into classrooms and potentially causing a nuisance or a health and safety risk," Heap said.
The school has not yet told the children about the decision.
"I think they're going to be really upset," Myers said. "I think it's going to be somewhat traumatic for some of the kids."
The school, which has a cougar as a mascot, is now hoping to place Fred in a new home.
However, Myers wants a compromise: keep the cats out of the buildings but allow them to stay.
"Just let the cats be," she said. "They're not hurting anyone."
The district says there's no firm timeline for removal, and the city's animal shelter says it currently does not pick up healthy stray cats.
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